Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Happy 21st, obnoxious self.

Conversation starters for a newcomer in the office, 'So, what are you going to do for Christmas?" or "Are you going anywhere this holiday?" put things into perspective once again. I found these two recurring questions really difficult to answer and at the same time, deal-breaking, when I realised I travelled for my past three birthdays. This, I am just really happy to get a full day off from work, and to be seated churning out this chunky junk. 

Now that we are on the brink of December – the concluding month of the calendar year and debatably the new beginnings in some aspects – I’ve spent noticeable amount of time flipping through my not-so-little Red Book (no, I am not a communist) and reflecting on the past 12 months.

Hitting the societal milestone of adulthood was rather nerve-wrecking yet plain. My 21st year started long ago – on a freezing train ride from Sapa to Hanoi, waking up in the middle of the night and sharing my last Milo Bar with Ping before going back to our wintry slumber.

The days are long but the year is fast. This 21st year has been a paradoxical journey and I am thankful to experience both sides of the coin in many instances – going through the motions of my daily routine mindlessly while bitterly fighting and working towards the intricacies of life that I now call achievements.

I promised to work hard for Honours right after getting my result slip in Hanoi but saw myself bailing out on school and now on my second internship since Leave of Absence (LOA) I took during summer. I made Vietnamese Spring Rolls and had Eel Noodles with my Couch Host last birthday but here I am now, rooted in Singapore, literally.

But it doesn’t matter what circumstances I am put in or the predicament that I find myself in sometimes, I learned to live in and for the moment. They are the negligible happenings that define me as a person; that moulded my 2014.

Being really annoyed at the snoozeable alarms and grumpy with the cold water before I prepare for school and work. Hating every single lecture and going to school just for my German classes. Thankful that mama wakes up every morning to make sure I am fed before my day starts and being so ever supportive even though I mock her for Candy Crush. Not seeing Dad for days if I come home too late because he’s just too busy providing for us. Meeting and leaving the greatest heartache of my life during my backpacking trip and labelling him as the favourite blob of blonde mess to cutting his existence out of my life entirely. Constantly in a desperate, occasionally audacious, attempt to pack my bags and leave for an adventure. Overly obsessed with working out and getting a toned body because that is the way I love myself. Judging people who play with Tinder and getting too serious about it myself; and at certain point wanted to be an ambassador. Wow, how do I go on?

It’s a year I’ve known a distinct degree of heartbreaks, devastations, appreciation, and grown through them. Glad, nonetheless, no less.

The most significant change in 2014 would be LOA. 2 years back, I started my degree in NUS with a bad foot in and have never liked school since. But I was lucky enough to be doing something I really liked – History – though often than not, I do roll my eyes really hard at substance-less questions like, “Gonna go into teaching or work at a museum?”

17 years into Singapore’s education, my dislike for the system only aggravated as I gained further knowledge (of it). I felt more than just physically and mentally sapped from the stale and meaningless pursuit in academics. LOA is one of the best decisions I’ve made and one that has taught me so much thus far. I explored the opportunities in the oxymoronic enjoyable corporate world; how it doesn’t have to deskbound in suit and tie.

And because I did not conform to the paper chase, I’ve found a pre-career that aligns with my interests.

I went through a corporate rollercoaster in terms of sideway progression and management understanding. I ventured into lifestyle “blogging” to freelancing, and back to lifestyle “writing”. Despite the transient 7 months of attending events, dealing with a bitch-of-a-boss, working from anywhere at anytime, and under the best management, there is only one line I will take. “Compromise but do not settle.”

Because of the parallel between my work and interest, travelling that is, I have had met many like-minded inspirations along the way and it’s just so rewarding; definitely not something that would’ve happened should I stay rooted in school for another energy-sapping semester. (Disclaimer, as much as I shame school, I do admire and respect people who pull through and are already on their way to graduation.)

From work travel with colleagues, leisure traveling with friends to solo wandering, I’ve come to accept that travelling is not about ticking off bucket list. For me at least, it has become a lifestyle. The moments where I push myself out of comfort zones and conquer fears are when I learn the most. In my most recent Lombok-Sumbawa trip, I saw myself waddling through the beauty of the endless blue hues and in awe with the undisturbed part of the world. I had the chance to snorkel through the raw beauty of corals and be close to the subtle empowerment of the blue starfishes and neon creatures. I befriended living inspirations and everyone had a backstory. They made everything seemed possible and concretised my thought of living in the moment; that now is the only right time to start living.

The lack of love dictates your life as much as one filled with. It has been a tumultuous year with regards to matters of the heart. Many have seen me crumble and fleeting to dating apps to get over. But outside these tangible grieving moments, I was soiling my bed with thoughts of betrayal and a very bruised ego.

I came to a conclusion that love is a game for the brave souls. I am taking back my presumed statement that relationships are for needy people because they are merely lonely. It’s not. It’s putting yourself out there at the expense of having your feelings trampled with. A mission I am not capable of.

I continue to cling on to self-doubt as I emptied myself out in pieces. On the way, I met a few lovely people, which morphed me into yet another mould when put back together. I finally found peace, (still) seeking closure, and giving myself another chance.

Relationship to me now, is just like gardening. Very much voluntary and illusive where you know everything is just temporary. My heart is insecure and to be robbed off the power of vulnerability once again is just impossible. Because I am egoistic; I am scared. I will stay trapped in the vicious vortex of being vulnerably powerful. (Power of vulnerability; because it is courageous to expose yourself to another.)

WOW. When you are going through 365 days, you can’t really see around them, you cannot get a physical measure of it. It was impossible to see how such long days and months, so miraculous and unfathomable, can actually fit into one penned out post; in such a concise manner yet so lacking.

Now fuck out, time for a new year.

Happy Birthday, obnoxiously narcissistic self.

Birthday dinner @ Masons with lovely family <3

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